Therapy Dog Training
| September 11th, 2009

Therapy Dog Training

Therapy Dog TrainingTherapy Dog Training is the most rewarding work you can do with your dog, as it affords both of you an opportunity to share your love with the people in the community who need it most.

Any dog can be a therapy dog, as long as there are no aggression issues. If your dog is aggressive toward other dogs or humans, you would first need to complete a round of obedience training before he or she was ready to begin therapy dog training.

Therapy Dog Training vs. Obedience Training

Therapy dogs require a baseline of excellent dog obedience training. But there’s still much more to learn. Yes, part of becoming a therapy dog involves learning lots of great dog tricks. Why teach dog tricks? Because in addition to the warmth and soft loving comfort your therapy dog can share with those in need, he should also arrive to bring a wealth of smiles. Some great dog tricks can brighten anyone’s day!

But in addition to dog obedience and tricks training, your dog will need to learn some very specialized skills. For example, many dogs are quite nervous around anything with wheels – from a car to a bicycle to a vacuum cleaner. The natural instinct of some dogs is to bark; others give chase; others shy away fearfully.

When you take your therapy dog for visits, one of the most frequent objects you will encounter is a wheelchair. Therapy dog training will teach your dog to be extremely comfortable around wheelchairs, even when they’re rolling. Another item that your dog won’t otherwise be used to is an IV pole and drip. A rambunctious dog could knock an IV pole over, or get tangled in the tubing. Therapy dogs must learn to be well-adjusted around such medical equipment, and learn to navigate them with grace and ease.

Are Therapy Dogs the same as Service Dogs?

Not at all. Service dog training is completely different. Service dogs receive highly-specialized training to assist the visually-impaired, the deaf community, as well as certain other populations. For instance, there are even service dogs known as seizure dogs who are paired with individuals suffering from epilepsy. A seizure dog can bark and alert his owner to warn of the onset of a seizure before it happens. Really!

Therapy Dogs, on the other hand, are almost always beloved family pets. Your dog lives with you as always, and isn’t paired with a specific individual or institution. Instead, you make arrangements to visit various facilities with your therapy dog to bring warmth and affection to those in need.

Therapy Dog Venues

If you’re wondering where you can take your dog after completing therapy dog training, the list is almost endless: children’s hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, VA hospitals, home-bound elders, even rehabilitation centers.

Do some breeds make better Therapy Dogs?

Absolutely not. The only requirement is that a therapy dog be an adult, not a puppy. But a sweet, loving disposition can be found in any breed, as well as the lovable mutt. Not every dog is cut out for this work, but you should never feel limited by your particular breed or mix.

Therapy Dog Certification

Therapy dog certification is required before your dog can participate at most institutions. Pet Partners is the largest national group that certifies therapy dogs in the U.S. Pet Partners has testing facilities throughout most communities in the U.S. Your dog must receive a Temperament Test and therapy dog certification before he can start to perform therapy dog work.

Sign Up for Therapy Dog Training

Any of our nationwide Zoom Room locations would love to welcome you and your dog into our next Therapy Dog class. We offer a six week class open to all dogs who have passed their Canine Good Citizen Test or the equivalent.

Please click on LOCATIONS in the menu to select your nearest Zoom Room.

89 Responses  
John Gill writes:

I am interested in a program to assist my one-year-old spayed female French Bulldog to become a therapy dog. She is sweet,cute, about 20 lbs and I have noticed that people reaally brighten up when they see her in public.

Any information would be appreciated. My phone number: 505-342-1965

Zoom Room writes:

Dear John,

We’d love to help you, but don’t yet have a Zoom Room location in the Albuquerque area. We really do hope to have on there soon! Did you know that Forbes magazine ranked Albuquerque as one of the top three most dog-friendly cities?

If you know anyone in New Mexico who might be interested in a Zoom Room dog training franchise, feel free to send them our way.

We hope to meet you and your adorable Frenchie soon!

All best,
Your friends at the Zoom Room

Nicole Gardner writes:


I am an ABA Therapist working with children with Autism. I also have three children of my own, one of whom has Autism.
Prior to this career I was a Vet Tech for the better part of a decade. That being said I realize that I have a real gem of a puppy temperament wise. She is a 4 and a five month old Black Lab called Happy.

My employer has checked with her Ins. Agent and has recieved a green light regarding the utilization of Therapy Dogs for the Children we serve. We are in Virginia Beach. SHould we seek out CGC first? Any advice or suggestions on how to proceed?

Nikki Gardner

Zoom Room writes:

Dear Nicole,

Our first suggestion is to get your puppy into a quality positive-reinforcement dog training program, leading up to your CGC.

Therapy dogs generally cannot be certified until they are a year old (and they are not mature enough to handle the stresses and rigors of that type of work until then as well) so you’re starting at a great time to get a good head start. Therapy dogs need to be very well-socialized around all types of people – including children, the elderly, and people that may show behavior which would normally scare a dog, so the more time you can spend with your puppy out and about in the world, in all kinds of settings, the better.

Remember to keep sessions short, and if your puppy shows signs of being stressed out (watch our dog training video on stress signals for dogs), make sure you give her a break.

After your puppy turns a year old, you can join one of two organizations – Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International, both of whom should be able to guide you in setting up a Therapy Dog program at your workplace. These organizations will test and certify your dog and provide needed insurance and guidance as you develop your program.

Good luck! We wish you all the best.

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

Wilford, Crain III writes:

Good day my name is Wilford Crain, I am a case mannager for the Veteran Intergration Center here in Albuquerque. We are a two year transitional program for homeless Veterans. The reason for my contacting you is two fold: 1 I am interested in bringing therapy animals in to our program to work with some of our vets suffering from PTSD. 2. I have a veteran who has expressed interest in becoming a handler of a therapy animal. I thank you for your time. We are currently located at Value Place Hotel (505)275-8200 ext.106 I look forward to hearing from you.

Cassie Landress writes:

I want to become a police dog trainer along with a therapy dog trainer. Would you be able to help me?

Zoom Room writes:

Hi, Cassie. Unfortunately, we don’t offer professional instruction for people who wish to become dog trainers. If you have a pet dog that you wanted to bring in, we could train him to be a therapy dog, and you’d learn great handling skills for working with him in such a setting. But this wouldn’t be the same as certifying you to train other dogs to be therapy dogs.

Although we do offer a scent tracking class, it is geared toward having a great, fun time with your pet. We do not offer professional K9-handling instruction, but there are many schools that do offer such certification.

We send you our best wishes on your journey to become a trainer!

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

Westa writes:

hello my name is westa
I wanted to ask about how would I go about
finding some one to train a retired police dog
to become a service dog? and if it could be done
and the cost of the training.


Paula writes:

I would like to have my miniature poodle as a therapy dog to visit the hospitals in my area. Where can I get him trained. He is 4 yrs old and I have already done obedience school for him when he was less than a year old and have worked with him every since. He has been socialized very well and is excellent with strangers, kids and the like. Thank you…Rocco’s Mom

Zoom Room writes:

Dear Paula,

I believe the nearest Zoom Room to you is in Austin, Texas. That location will be opening later this summer, and will offer Therapy Dog Training classes. You might want to click the Contact Us button at the top of the page to send a note to Austin so they can let you know when Therapy Dog classes begin.

I’m sure they’d love to meet Rocco!

Keep Zooming!
Your friends at the Zoom Room

Katie writes:

Hi there!
I am deciding between two institutions for my Berner to be tested. One, is through the Delta Society, and the other is through Therapy Dog International.
What are the positives and negatives of each? It seems to me, from my research, that the Therapy Dogs International test has 10/11 CGC test steps, and the last is specific to the test.

Is one certification more valued than the other? Which one’s tougher?!
Thanks so much for your honest replies. There’s so much mixed info out there!

Zoom Room writes:

Hey Katie,

That’s a great question. A lot of people do ask us about the difference between Delta Society and Therapy Dog International (TDI).

Both of these are highly-respected, well-run organizations. To decide which one to test with, you should think about where you and your dog will want to volunteer, as some institutions will accept TDI certification and others Delta.

To a large degree, these distinctions are regional. In Southern California, for example, Delta is definitely preferred over TDI, but in certain places on the East Coast, TDI is preferred.

The testing for each is similar, except TDI is basically a Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, whereas Delta has an additional temperament test component that is quite rigorous. The Delta test also does away with the supervised separation item, for the reason that it’s assumed you would never leave your dog alone during a visit.

We have clients that have used both, so ultimately it really comes down to where you want to visit. The good news is that you won’t go wrong with either!

Keep Zooming,
Your friends at the Zoom Room

Katie writes:

That’s great to hear. I have the chance to take the TDI test this Sunday, so I think I’ll give that a go, and take the Delta Society test when one happens in my area (southeast of Seattle).
It can’t hurt to be certified with both, no?!

Thanks SO much for your response. This is very helpful!

Kai writes:

hey there, I’m Kai and I was wondering if there were any facilities in or around Lake Elsinore, so that I could take my nine year old Sheltie, Bandit to get trained.

He’s a great dog and loves people. He’s just a little scared, but he can do it, he’s a sweet dog

Zoom Room writes:

Hey Kai,

Our nearest locations to you are in Culver City and in Hollywood (though the Hollywood location won’t be open until Sept. 2010). It’s a bit of a hike – but we do have weekend Therapy Dog classes, so might still be doable for you to drive in for weekend classes.

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

Jessica Ellison writes:

I have a 7 month Golden Retriever who is very exceptional and I think he would make a great therapy dog. My question is, is it possible for him to be trained as a therapy dog and still retrieve birds for my husband? He’s very gentle and for 7 months, very calm and obedient.

larkin phillips writes:

I have a golden retriever and would like to train him for therapy work. I live in Riverside ca.
How do I do this ??

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Larkin,

If you and your dog don’t mind the hour ride, then you can take a Therapy Dog class with us at either our Hollywood or Culver City location. It’s a six week class. If you click on “Sign up for classes” to the left, you can view current schedules.

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

Ann writes:

I have an odd question, since there is not a training center near me, is it possible to find a trained dog that I could learn to work with? I am a psychotherapist and work with children. I’d love to incorporate a dog into my practice, but I’m not sure when I would have time to drive to all of the training in another city. Thanks for any advice!
Thank you!

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Ann,

The best way to do this it to find a Delta group near you that has trained pet partner teams that could assist you in your practice (the dogs would be accompanied by their trained handlers).
To find a group, visit Good luck!

Isabella writes:

hi i’m bella . i was wondering if you have a thearapy dog training in elmira ny. i want to take him to school with me!!!

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Bella – At this time we unfortunately don’t have any locations near you in Elmira.

Jennifer Sheppard writes:

Do you have any near my zip code – 27892? I would love to have my 5lb, sweet, loving, Chihuahua become a therapy dog. She loves everyone and is by no means a typical Chi. She is four and a half years old. We live in North Carolina.

I’v had her visit a couple of nursing homes and she did very well. She let some of the ladies hold her.


Zoom Room writes:

Hi Jennifer,

She sounds like a wonderful dog! Although we do not currently have any locations in NC (you can click on the Locations link on the left-hand side of this page, or look at the drop down menu at the top of the screen to see our current and upcoming locations), I’m happy to say that we will almost certainly have our first North Carolina Zoom Room later this year. We’ll announce the details as soon as we know them here on our website as well as on our Facebook page.

All best,
Your friends at the Zoom Room

edda aichinger writes:

My name is Edda. Our dog’s name is Lucky. He is an australian shepherd/border collie about 1 1/2 years old. We’d like to train him as a therapy dog. He likes kids. Where can I start? Please advise.

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Edda,

If you live near one of our Zoom Room Locations, we can help you! Otherwise, you should try contacting the Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International.

– Your friends at the Zoom Room.

Anne Pratt writes:

I need to find a therapy dog trainer or delta course in my area for my golden Bear. I live in Southlake, Texas. Also, which certification is prefered in Dallas area?

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Anne,

We’ve heard good things about Heart of Texas Therapy Dogs, based in Dallas. Hope that helps!

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

Canines Can Do writes:

Most of the therapy tests are based upon the AKC CGC test plus the addition of the tests regarding typical equipment found in a hospital or nursing home setting which include the wheelchair, walker, four-footed cane and crutches, in addition to an elevator simulation given by some groups.

Rev. Joseph R Applegate writes:

I am a pastor that preaches weekly at a nursing home where I recuperated after losing my leg… my wife just got me a Shiba Inu from a shelter that only has three legs. She has a sweet disposition but seems shy. My dream is to preach a sermon and then tour the facility with a thrapy dog as a one legged man with a three legged dog. How should I proceed?

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Joseph,

You will need to find a qualified trainer in your area to prepare your dog through advanced obedience classes. After that, you’ll need to contact one of the certifying organizations such as the Delta Society to find an examiner in your area to administer the certification test. After that, you’ll have the appropriate credentials to tour such facilities. If you have specific facilities in mind, you might want to ask them if they work with a specific Therapy Dog organization, so you will have the best information about where to pursue certification.

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

R writes:

Will you be opening a facility in the DFW area for Therapy dog training?

Zoom Room writes:

Yes, we expect to open the first Zoom Room Dallas in 2012, but as of right now we don’t have a target Grand Opening date. The easiest way to stay apprised of new location openings is via our Facebook page:

Nina writes:

Hi, I live on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage Alaska, and wanted to get my 7 year old Chihuahua/Yorkie into therapy since he has personally calmed my anxiety disorders and I know he can do good for others. Also, I myself am a childhood cancer survivor and I know I would have loved a chance to play with a dog like my Rocky while in the hospital. Please let me know how I can do this, thanks so much!

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Nina,

Your pup sounds wonderful – and that’s so great to hear that you want to share his love and comfort with others. Unfortunately we don’t have any locations in Alaska at this time. You could try reaching out to the Delta Society to see if they have anyone to recommend in the Anchorage area. We wish you all the best!

– Your friends at the Zoom Room

SPC Reaume writes:

I have a black lab/coon hound, He is neutered and 7 months old. he has been through the cgc training and recieving his certificate next week. I will be moving to germany per the military and was trying to get my dog to be a certified therapy dog so we could help the soldiers that come back from iraq and afganastain. i will be at launstul reginal medical hospital, if there is any way you can make an exception I know the soldiers and myself would greatly appreciate it.

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Matthew,

That will be so wonderful – bringing your dog with you to Germany to provide support for the servicemen and women in the hospital there. We’re not sure what you mean by an exception. We offer therapy dog training at all Zoom Room locations and would be more than happy to provide training for you and your dog. Please simply contact your local Zoom Room to find out the current training schedule. If you’re in a rush, they can also provide therapy dog training via private sessions instead of the group class setting. You can find a list of all Zoom Room locations at

All best regards,
Your friends at the Zoom Room

D. writes:

My name is D and i work in a nursing home. I have a 10 week old border collie blue heeler mix pup named nixi and my work place is pet friendly. I have taken her up there to met a few people and she does very good not jumping up or barking and is very sweet. i would like to have her become a therapy dog so she can come to work with me a few times a week so she isn’t at home alone all the time. i was wondering what steps i should take to get her in therapy traing now while she is so young and still learning. can you help?

Zoom Room writes:

Hi D,

If you live near one of our Zoom Room locations, we can certainly help, as we provide therapy dog training at all of our centers. As your dog is now young, you’ll simply want to begin with basic obedience training, then progressing to more advanced obedience until you and your dog are able to pass the Canine Good Citizen test. At that point, you’ll be all set to begin therapy dog training. You can find your nearest location at

All best,
Your friends at the Zoom Room

Selen - Nima writes:

I want to find ZoomRoom in NYC :) and enroll my dog Nima in theraphy dog training – any suggestions in New York Area?
Thank you
Selen- Nima :)

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Selen,

We do not have any locations in NYC at this time, but hope to be there soon. You can always find a list of our current locations at

All best,
Your friends at the Zoom Room

Josh Winslow writes:

Hi, my name is Josh Winslow, and I have a 4 month old pup. He was born mid summer 2011and am wanting to get him certified as a therapy dog when he comes of age. But by that time We will be in Michigan.

kristin writes:

i have a deaf pom who is at least ten years old and he is a very good dog so i woluld like to take him to nurseing homes and hospitals to visit sick patents and i want to know can you help canw he be a therpy dog i love him and i want to share him with others to know what its like to be around him so please help us..
yelm washington

Zoom Room writes:

Hi Kristin. You might want to contact the Delta Society to see about training programs in your area, as we do not yet have any locations in Washington state.

Savannah Kerns writes:

Hi there,
I am currently living in Oklahoma but in the process of moving to Austin Texas. I have been very interested in getting my dog involved in therapy work. She is incredibly sweet with excellent temperament. She is a German Shepard mix, her name is Bailey, she just turned one year, but has a way with people that I have never seen. Crazy to say this may be her “calling”? Any who, I am hoping to get as much info as possible. I am hoping to move in the next few months and would love to get her started immediately, and who better to go with then delta?!? I think it’s an incredible opportunity for both dogs and people.


Dee writes:

Is it possible for my fox terrier to be qualified as therapy dog without a six weeks class?

Zoom Room writes:

Yes. No special class is needed – but the test is extremely challenging for any dog that has not gone through formal therapy dog and advanced obedience training.

Kaileigh writes:

hi I was wondering if theres a zoom room in the denver area

Zoom Room writes:

Yes, absolutely! You can select Denver from the Locations menu, or visit: Enjoy!

Carole Weber writes:

I have a 5 year old Bichon who has already shown that he could be a great therapy dog. He has visited nursing homes (at the time they only required that he be up to date on all shots and that they have it on record). He was exceptionally wonderful with all people even though we were actually there to visit relatives. Wheel chairs and people randomly reaching for him did not bother him at all. Recently I have had a few occasions to take him to work. I am a high school art teacher. Though I teach any student who registers for my classes, I have a fairly large percentage of special needs children. What a difference he made in many of their moods and attitudes and their receptiveness to work. My principle says if he were certified he may be able to do this on a more regular basis. Also I am not too far from retirement and would like to volunteer this service. I am located in NE PA, about 35 miles northeast of Scranton, PA. Is there any training near us. I have located several
Canine Good Citizenship Trainers, but wonder about the next step. Thank you.

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